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Round the World in 301 Days As long as we can just keep putting one foot in front of the other, well make it.

Sun, Sea and 4x4 Action

AUSTRALIA | Friday, 24 October 2008 | Views [544]

We have been busy over the past week.  I wrote last just before Jossan and i climbed aboard our 3 day catamaran cruise and i was dreading being trapped with 45 or so total animals on the high seas.  Maybe it was my low expectations, or maybe these were actually great people, but i couldnt have asked for a better bunch of inmates to share this hilarious experience with.  People say that trips like this are made or broken by the people your forced to socialise with, and our trip was for sure 'made' by the company we kept.  After checking in at our hostel and choosing a few choice items to bring with us in a travel bag we locked away 95% of all our stuff in storage and headed for the pre-boarding briefing.  There they told us to make sure we had enough money for the bar on the island, and gave us a snorkel each.  Hands down, the briefest briefing ive ever attended.  Off to the boat we then went, getting to know some of the other passengers on the way.  The 10 minute walk to the ship was long enough to discover who would be a good person to chat to while sailing, and who to avoid getting cornered by at all costs, and in no time were being checked in and introduced to our mega entuhsiastic, totally artificial, remarkably attractive boat rep, who was to organise everything for us during our journey.  She was very entertaining and, much like half of everybody on the Australian east coast, Scottish.  Rather worryingly though, during our 5 minute safety briefing, she punctuated every safety protocol by saying that we would all soon be getting insanely pissed and wouldnt remember much of what she said anyway.  There was excitable chatter about drinking games, some jumping up and down and plenty of loud whooping.  All of which, came from her.  I think even the most hardened drinkers among us were slightly intimitaded by her drinking ethic and the level of punishment being promised to our livers.  Turns out we all rose to the challenge in the end.  We were only 28 so onboard there was masses of room.  They also provided enough food to feed event the most undernourished traveller like a king twice over, although the food was mainly sandwich ingredients on plates with mountains of bread to DIY a lunch out of.  Easy enough on land, virtually impossible doing 25 knots through the waves with a hangover.  It was like a gameshow and caused much hilarity, followed by lots of cleaning up, followed by lots of whooping from the Scottish hostess.  We sailed straight to our island resort on day one and got settled in our rooms on one side of the island.  It turns out the island resort we stayed at is quite decent and costs hundreds of dollars per night to stay at, with additional costs for use of the facilities.  The tour groups, us, are banished to the far side of the island to drink in our own cheapo bar and sleep, but are allowed to use all the swanky facilities, totally free.  If i had just payed a fortune for my hotel only to discover the island was secretly infested with backpackers who constantly appeared all over the place to use the facilities, id be livid.  As, im sure, some were.  Who cares i say, Viva la infestation.  I golfed, played tennis, swam in the olympic sized pool and sunbathed on the heli-Pad. To top it all i played a magical round of golf, sadly alone, and there was noone there to see me put in on the green from a veritable mile with every stroke.  I finished the best game of golf i had ever played and rewarded myself with a drink from the over priced rich-mans bar on the good side of the island, knowing id never be believed about my uber round of golf.  Dinner on our side of the island was shovelled in and washed down by about 60 litres of beer.  We were just about to launch into the drinking game portion of the evening when someone came up to me and told me, right out, that i was one hell of a golfer and that they had watched me play.  Nothing, NOTHING, is more satisfying than unexpected praise.  Suitably inflated, the drinking games began.  Then blank.
The following day was all sailing, snorkelling, photography and much more chatting having apparently befiended the entire boat the night before.  There were a couple of German guys worth mentioning, who were like a hilarious comedy double team.  I half suspected their broken english must actually be an act, but it turns out it was good old fashioned German accented banter, and these two were as hilarious as i could hope.  Germans are shamelessly blunt, something i find particularly hilarious.
Night two was marginally less alcoholic but still its a tad foggy after about 8pm. 
Day three was like day two, but with more sunburn.

And that was that.  Sailing done and thoroughly enjoyed, we hopped on a 14 hour night bus to take us to Hervey Bay where we were to offroad drive on the largest sand island in the world.  We were even proudly informed that this island has more sand than the Sahara, half of which i must have emptied from my bag when we got back from our tour.

Check in for out Fraser Experience was required the day before so we had plenty of time to see the town and such before getting to the tour HQ at 3pm.  We were then split into 2 groups of 8 and given all sorts of maps and itineraries and shopping lists.  We were lucky with group sizes as normally they horn 11 poeople into each car.  I swear i have no idea how that would work - with 8 we were still pretty well packed in there.  Luck was on our side again, and our group was amazing.  Everyone got along famously, and the other car was the same story.  Due to there being fewer per car than usual we decided to do the trip in convoy so that when we stopped there were more of us, and as they say, the more the merrier.  We only had one job the day of the briefing, getting our shopping bought.  Each car shopped as a unit which was certainly a good idea as we were to cook as two teams in a sort of ready,steady,cook style affair.  Coordinating 8 people shopping into one trolley isnt simple, but we persevered and soon had what we reckoned whould be enough for a few group meals.  After this taxing experience however, everyone very sensibly decided to buy their own booze and meet back at the hostel later for a few drinks...
Cut to the following morning and we were all back in the briefing room for possible the longest briefing of my life.  Not only due to the hangover and the volume at which the entire thing was conducted, but the jolly bloke giving the talk really wanted to take the time to hammer home the concequences of feeding dingoes or driving in salt water, or crashing, after which people who were previously happy to drive had chaged their minds and were even understandably reluctant to go as passengers.  It was all in fun but he had tales of extra charges and lost deposits that made everyones blood run cold.  We all laughed at the pictures of cars on their rooves and didnt believe this was a common occurance until, on the ferry on the way over to Fraser, we met a group who were on their way over for the second time having rolled their car ON THE WAY to the ferry.  It takes a totally incapable moron to roll a car full of people on the 6 minute drive from the hostel to the ferry.  It was a tarmacked road!!  While the idiot driving had to go for surgery, the rest of the group went back, got another car, and set out again at a much slower pace without a complete boob at the wheel.  The trip is all about the camping and the taking photos of the fresh water lakes, all of which are scattered around the jungle on the 120km long sand dune.  Its also about the boozing, making the driving part of the holiday seem a little edgier, but we managed to work it so that me and the other guy driving our car were plenty sober through the day, and far too drunk every night.  Highlights included the first nights camping where i produced a fantastic bbq spread for my group in complete darkness, the second nights camping where i produced an equally amazing pasta number in such darkness that it made the first nights dusky attempt at darkness seem positively blinding, and the time when one of the guys in our group found a spider the size on apple in his tent, on is foot, in the dark.  There are plenty of photos - have a gander.  The trip organisers, Koala - thats what theyre called, were amzingly decent about everything.  When we got back after hosing the salt water off our car, they gave the car the thumbs up - no loss of deposit due to a dent here or a scratch there - excellent.  Then we started to check back in our camping equipment.  We were missing 1 large water tank, 1 set of tent poles, 3 forks, and a spoon.  Shame on us we were told, and we all reaching for our wallets when the guys told us that these things happen, that we were all going to get our money back and that they would see us in the bar shortly for some free food and gallons of beer.  Happy days indeed.

After some farewells and all kinds of Facebook address exchanging, everyone else was off down the coast in the campervans that they live in.  Jo and i were sticking around to go whale watching, hoping to catch a glimpse of the much hyped Humpback Whale.  Turns out there are LOADS of whales on the go.  We saw about 30 of em', jumping out the water to see what was happening and avoiding my efforts to take a picture with surprising ease.  Who knew taking a picture of a 160 ton sea beast could be so tricky.  There are pictures, but they could really be of anything.  That was a nice day out though, with 'all the free cake you can eat while we're at sea' falling sadly short of justifying the meaty price tag for a boat ride.  Still, our time in Oz was almost over and we wanted to cram in as much as possible, so we were both very glad we went.

Next stop - Brisbane.  A quick (by our standards) 6 hour bus journey and we were there.  Lovely city, we stayed at a couple of good hostels and ate at some amazing restaurants.  Our last night we met up with a couple of friends from our Fraser trip and went out for dinner and drinks.  What a laugh it was, and i hope that we havent seen the last of that pair - a couple of Nottingham lads who have a great sense of humour and a good drinking ethic... My kind of people!

Which brings us to the airport, now, and our flight out of Australia.  We board in 13 minutes. 

<SOB>

Checked the weather in Fiji for the coming week.  Thunder storms.  All week.

Farewell Australia, farewell.

 

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